When looking at a gaming monitor’s specs-sheet, I’m sure you would’ve noticed the term ‘FreeSync’.
To understand what this term means, we’ll have to discuss another issue first: screen tearing.
In PC gaming, graphics card and monitor are responsible for in-game graphics.
While GPU renders those graphics in the form of images/frames, monitor is the device that displays them.
The main difference between their functionality is that while a graphics card is built to produce frames as fast as possible, the monitors come with a limited refresh rate – which is the number of frames it can display in one second.
It’s not an issue if your GPU is low-end/midrange and your monitor has a high refresh rate. But if we consider the opposite (high-end GPU and midrange monitor), then your monitor would not keep up with the GPU, and you’ll get screen tearing (split images) on screen.
To solve this issue, a feature called VSync was released first.
Using this feature, you can restrict your GPU’s rendering capability and lock it to produce only as many frames as your monitor’s refresh rate.
While V-Sync manages to solve screen tearing, it creates another issue in doing so: screen stuttering.
This problem arises when a gaming monitor puts more load on the GPU (typically during climax) and it produce less FPS than it does under normal conditions.
When this happens while V-Sync is enabled, you experience a slight lag or stuttering. This can be fatal if you’re playing any competitive multiplayer game.
You can think of FreeSync as an upgraded version of original VSync technology.
FreeSync allows a monitor to sync its refresh rate with the rate at which your GPU is producing graphics. This allows the monitor to have variable refresh rate and eliminate screen tearing as well as lagging.
FreeSync has a rival in the form of Nvidia’s G-Sync. Since both technologies revolve around solving the same issue, we’ll now discuss how they compete against each other.
Before comparing their performances, we’ll have to understand their history.
G-Sync is a proprietary standard developed by Nvidia, while FreeSync is an open standard based on Adaptive Sync.
Due to its closed nature, G-Sync has a consistent implementation across different monitors and provides slightly better performance.
While FreeSync can give you above-average results, it has inconsistent implementation due to being open-source and the input lag varies from monitor to monitor.
If we talk about connectivity, the FreeSync monitors come with various input options, even the now-old VGA and DVI ports are available in some models. Yes, the FreeSync itself will only work with HDMI and DisplayPort, but it’s always better to have multiple connectivity options.
On the other hand, G-Sync monitors come with very limited options.
Supported Graphics cards
This is the area where FreeSync shines as it can be used with both AMD and Nvidia’s graphics cards (GTX 10 and RTX 20/30 series). On the other hand, G-Sync is only supported if you own an Nvidia graphics card (GTX 650 and above).
Since G-Sync is a hardware-based solution, the G-Sync monitors come with a chip which increases their overall cost. This is not the issue with FreeSync, however, as everything is done by the graphics card. This makes FreeSync monitors cheaper than their G-Sync siblings.
Is FreeSync Worth it
Currently, there’s no clear winner between FreeSync and G-Sync technologies. Both have their own pros and cons, and ultimately it depends on your preference.
FreeSync is totally worth it if you own an AMD graphics card or Ryzen APU. There’s no extra cost at your end and you get decent performance.
But if you’re into Nvidia’s Ecosystem and already have a latest RTX/GTX graphics card, there’s no need for it as G-Sync provides better performance, consistent implementation, and lower input lag.
Yes, its overall cost is high but you get many extra bells and whistles not present in FreeSync such as Ultra Low Motion Blur feature and variable overdrive.
If you’re insistent on taking the FreeSync route, make sure to check reviews of the monitor you’ve shortlisted before making any decision since FreeSync performance varies from one model to another.